« PoprzedniaDalej »
first nobleman in the kingdom, they suffer with one who is more entitled to his rank and honours, by the public and private virtues which adorn him, than by the adventitious circumstance of hereditary descent,—whose patriotism is only outshone by the noble sacrifice which he offers to the dictates of his conscience,-and whose chief regret in being deprived of the privileges from which he is so unjustly debarred, arises from the inability to employ them for the advantage of his country.
I have the honour to remain,
MY LORD DUKE,
With the most sincere respect
Your Grace's most obedient
March 18, 1828.
with much abler pens than mine, have of late years entered the lists of controversy, that I should consider myself only a useless volunteer in the cause, were it not for the peculiar circumstances in which I find myself placed. Out of more than a hundred English peers of my own rank, I am the only one who refuses the Test which the Legislature has thought proper to establish, as the qualification for the exercise of constitutional rights. It is an enviable privilege to enjoy a voice in the affairs of the Commonwealth; to be a guardian over the people's rights, and an instrument for the public good: I therefore consider it a sacred duty to show, why I refuse the exercise of functions so exalted in their character, and so important in their consequences. That such a Test should ever have existed, is matter of astonishment; but
(a) This Test is the true-born offspring of that atrocious conspiracy which sacrificed the lives of so many innocent individuals, and which Mr. Fox thus characterizes : “ The proceedings on the Popish Plot must always be
that it should exist now, as a measure of high state policy, is beyond all reason and understanding. How the faithful and honourable discharge of the duties of Parliament can be affected more by a belief in Transubstantiation, than by a belief in Consubstantiation, or by a disbelief in the real presence altogether; how a man is less fitted to
considered as an indelible disgrace upon the English nation, in which king, parliament, judges, juries, witnesses, have all their respective, though certainly not equal, shares. Witnesses of such a character as not to deserve credit in the most trifling cause, upon the most immaterial facts, gave evidence so incredible, or to speak more properly, so impossible to be true, that it ought not to have been believed if it had come from the mouth of Cato; and upon such evidence from such witnesses, were innocent men condemned to death and executed.” We have only to look around us to be satisfied that the same delusion still exists in the minds of many ;-—that even those master-spirits who are the enemies of emancipation, are haunted with the same imaginary horrors of Popery; and that both our doctrine as Christians, and our reputation as subjects, are, to this very day, condemned upon evidence equally incredible and impossible.
When this Test was passing the House of Lords, Gunning, bishop of Ely, maintained that the Church of Rome was not idolatrous. The lords did not much mind Gunning's arguments, but passed the bill. And though Gunning had said he could not take that test with a good conscience, yet as soon as the bill was passed, he took it in the crowd with the rest."--Burnet.
serve his country, because he acknowledges a spiritual authority in the Bishop of Rome, as head of the Christian Church, than if he believed that authority to belong to the King of England, are paradoxes which no reflecting mind can for an instant entertain. That they who preach, (in conformity with the Doctrine of Christ,) that the kingdom of God is not of this world, and that men are bound to honour and obey their king, and to be subject to the civil power, under pain of damnation; that they should hold a divided allegiance, between the spiritual head of their Church, and the lawful authorities of their country, it is preposterous and absurd to imagine. No: it cannot
(6) Vindicating his church and country from similar accusations, that admirable patriot and exemplary pastor, Dr. Doyle, in his most powerful and most eloquent reply to Dr. Magee, says :
“ The Catholic Church is also loyal-but she is loyal through a sense of duty, and because such is the line of conduct prescribed to her by Almighty God. She is devoted to the prince established by divine Providence, not through fear or necessity, but freely and cheerfully; in
; every country, and under whatsoever circumstances, she offers up, as is prescribed by St. Paul, prayers and petitions for the king, and for all that are in high station, that all men may lead a quiet and holy life. To impugn the sincerity of her children in this country in praying for the monarch and bearing towards him the most sincere devotedness of be, that we merit our exclusion, because we continue our submission, in doctrinal points, to the
mind and will, is one of the most unworthy deeds of which any person, lay or ecclesiastic, could be guilty.
“ The insinuations in the Charge respecting a division of allegiance, and the insecurity of that which we owe and pay to the sovereign of these realms, are SLANDEROUS and MALIGNANT. They are founded on no facts, supported by no proof; they are contradicted by every page of our history, by the preambles of divers acts of Parliament, by the statements of our friends, the confessions of our enemies, by the senate and the ministers of the king. I omit our own oaths of allegiance, which are incompatible with a division of allegiance, because I cannot submit to vindicate myself or my fellow-countrymen from the imputation of perjury. It is the grossest insult which men were ever
. condemned to endure."
But, says the Bishop of St. Davids', “they [Roman Catholics) are incapable of the allegiance, which is due from subjects to their sovereign. My Lords, they are incapable of that allegiance, because they are bound by a contrary allegiance to a foreign sovereign.”—(Speech of Dr. Thomas Burgess, Bishop of St. David's, delivered on the 9th July, 1823, and published by the Right Reverend prelate himself !!)
My only reply to Dr. Burgess is, that his assertion is false, calumnious, and insulting. But to what a condition are we reduced ! we not only swear a true and perfect allegiance, but we swear it in much stronger terms than any Protestant in the kingdom, than the Bishop of St. David's himself. That oath is framed by the legislature, is ac